You are currently viewing Buying Guide of Shell jacket

Buying Guide of Shell jacket

What is a Shell Jacket?

A shell jacket is a multifunctional outerwear that is suitable for most purposes and works just as well in the city as out at sea or in the mountains! The shell jacket is what it sounds like, an outer jacket that should work just like a thin and flexible shell on top of other layers.

The jacket’s membrane is both waterproof and windproof, at the same time as it has good breathability. The ventilation system in a shell jacket protects from weather and wind from the outside, at the same time as excess heat is removed from the inner layers when needed.

The shell jacket often has a sporty design and a lot of practical features in the form of pockets, thumbholes, and protective hoods. The shell jacket can become a practical companion all year round by varying the lower layers in number, material, and thickness!


Shell jackets are very lightweight, which is a natural consequence of the fact that they only consist of a protective layer. Because they are unlined, they can be easily packed down to very small sizes and therefore form a minimal part of the package.

The fact that the jacket does not have a direct warming function in itself is actually a great advantage, which means that you can easily adjust the clothes under the jacket to suit today’s weather and climate.

If low weight is the highest priority, it may be worth considering if there are any unnecessary features you can do without. For example, things like pockets and zippers weigh extra and can also cause chafing or friction against other layers.


The fit of a shell jacket is important, both for practical reasons and from a comfort point of view. A jacket with a poorer fit not only risks becoming uncomfortable, but its functions must also not come into their own.

A sad consequence of this may be that the jacket is not used as much as a jacket adapted to one’s body and needs would have done. Although the shell jacket may have a figure-hugging design, the freedom of movement must be kept to a maximum.

Since the shell jacket also constitutes one of the outer layers in the shell principle, there must be room for one, two, or even more layers to fit inside. However, a model that is far too wide risks taking up an unnecessary amount of space and can also be impractical to have under a backpack.


Shell jackets are equipped with a protective membrane protecting against moisture penetrating the lower layers. The shell jacket ensures a comfortable temperature and dry climate closest to the body.

How waterproof your new jacket needs to depend on what it is intended to be used for and what stresses it will be exposed to. This leads to discussing the difference between different variants of shell jackets.

A Hardshell jacket is really water-resistant in non-stretch material and is the optimal choice if it is to be exposed to different types of weather and other stresses.

On the other hand, the softshell jackets are slightly softer and with more flexibility. These rarely have a waterproof membrane and are more adapted for explosive activity outdoors for shorter periods.

Water resistance on various materials is measured in the term water column. How these measurements are made and which units to keep track of are described in more detail below.

Membrane Technology

Shell jackets come in a wide variety of membrane types, and the differences are often visible, not least on the price tag. In the higher price ranges, shell jackets with slightly better water resistance and ventilation capacity are often found.

The membrane, or “film” as it is also called, is a coating applied to the inside of the outer shell, which makes the material waterproof. There is often talk of so-called 2-layer jackets and 3-layer jackets, which indicate how the jacket is constructed and how thick it is perceived.

Both types have an outer fabric against which the membrane is laminated. On the 2-layer jacket, the lining is loose and has thus left room for an air space opposite the membrane.

It differs from a 3-layer jacket, where also the lining that is designed to protect the membrane is laminated together with the other two layers. In this way, the 3-layer jacket often feels more flexible and thin, while the 2-layer jacket feels a bit warmer and thicker.

Water Pillars

The water-resistance of a jacket is measured in millimeters per unit using so-called water columns. This is measured by exposing the material to high pressure in connection with exposure to water.

The capacity of the fabric is calculated based on how long it can withstand before the water begins to penetrate. The higher the water column unit, the more resistant the jacket is to moisture.

The height of the water column required depends on what the jacket is to be exposed to. Shorter exposure to rain or snow does not really require more than around 5,000 – 8,000 millimeters of the water column, while longer trips in forests and land with varying climates can require up to 15,000 – 20,000 millimeters.

It can be tempting to buy the shell jacket with the highest specified water column unit, but again it is about what the jacket should be used for. A jacket with really water-repellent properties risks having this at the expense of the ventilation system, resulting in poor breathability and that the garment feels closed.

Difference Between a Shell Jacket and a Rain Jacket?

There are several differences between rain jackets and shell jackets. The shell jacket, for example, is often more flexible, lightweight, and thinner.

This is because the shell jacket must be protected against moisture but also be comfortable and functional to perform activities in. It differs from the rain jacket, whose main task is to protect against rain.

Another major difference between shell jackets and rain jackets is that the former is unlined while the latter is lined. This contributes to the shell jacket having a superiorly better ventilation capacity, which prevents unnecessary heat emitted by the body from remaining and results in moisture and sweat.

Although a rain jacket has a good water-repellent ability, it can cause a feeling of confinement due to its limited respiratory system. On the other hand, with a good shell jacket, you can be sure to stay warm and dry in most types of weather and activities.

Read More: